DA's Office offers consumer protection

Scams are designed to prey on our worst fears and vulnerabilities to get at our bank accounts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an entirely new set of scams that coupled with long-running scams such as the “grandparent scam” have created a perfect storm of opportunity for fraudsters and scammers.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe’s Consumer Protection Division will join with the Federal Trade Commission and agencies across the nation in highlighting helpful tips on avoiding scams and being a savvy consumer during National Consumer Protection Week from March 6-12.

The FTC offers these tips in recognizing a scam:

• Scammers may call or e-mail offering a prize or claiming you’ve won a lottery or sweepstakes. To receive the prize or winnings, scammers will require you to pay a fee, provide sensitive financial information or accept a bogus check for deposit.

• Scammers may present a fabricated problem that needs an immediate solution, such as a dangerous virus on your computer, a relative that has been arrested or injured, or money owed to the IRS.

• Scammers often pressure consumers to act right away, deflect questions and discourage consumers from telling anyone about the untrue situation that the scammer has conjured.

• Scammers will direct their victims to pay in a specific way, such as a wire transfer or a pre-paid bank or gift card. Successful scammers are pros at not getting caught by gaining money through untraceable channels. Residents are encouraged to block unwanted texts and phone calls, utilize strong passwords for online accounts, and delete suspicious and unwanted emails.

Legitimate organizations will not contact you by phone, text or email asking for sensitive personal and/or financial information. Hang up, press delete and discuss the situation with a trusted friend, neighbor or relative instead.

The FTC also reminds residents that COVID-19 vaccines are free. If anyone charges you for help signing up or for the shot itself, it’s a scam. And it’s also a scam if someone asks for personal or financial information or money to get a national vaccine certificate or passport.

To avoid misinformation and scams on the internet and social media, seek pandemic-related help and information from a verified and trusted source such as coronavirus.gov, coronavirus.kdheks.gov or jocogov.org/department/health/covid-19.

Residents wishing to report a scam or receive more information are encouraged to contact the JoCo DA’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 913-715-3003 or visit da.jocogov.org/consumer-protection

A woman with grey hair talking on the phone while holding a credit card.